The Conquest of ValenciaTeruel - Castellón - Valencia
The Conquest of Valencia. Road cycling tourism from the mountains to the Mediterranean
- Route: From Cella-Teruel to Valencia
- Provinces: Teruel, Castellón, Valencia.
- Kilometres: Approx. 222 km.
- Days recommended: 4 days (3 nights).
- Difficulty: Low-Medium.
Information you can download on this page
- The PDF guide for tourist cycling on roads, including maps, type of road, kilometres and crossings, etc.
- The tracks on the route in GPX, KMZ and TRK format.
- List of accommodation.
- List of points for obtaining and stamping the Letter of safe conduct.
- List of tourist information offices.
- Tourist brochure (this can be obtained at any of the tourist information offices on the route).Only available in Spanish.
Remember that you can obtain more information about each route at the tourist information offices on the Way of El Cid, including brochures and the Letter of safe conduct.
Plot: the conquest of Valencia
For anyone wanting to come with me to attack Valencia… I will wait for them for three days at the Canal of Cella. This route sets off in Cella, the place where, according to the Poem, El Cid decided to meet up with those who wanted to help him conquer Valencia. It follows his tracks through the many towns and villages of what is today known as Comunidad Valenciana, tributaries of El Cid in history or conquered by him according to the Poem.
The route runs towards Valencia mainly along the course of the River Palancia: in the valley of this river, we come across Jérica (conquered, according to the Poem, by El Cid and historically one of his tributaries) and Segorbe (also a tributary but, in the Poem, it was used as home for an army of 3000 Moorish knights on their way to Alcocer to do battle with El Cid.
The route unavoidably leads to the Mediterranean, first of all at Sagunto (converted anachronistically in the Poem into El Cid's headquarters for three years) and El Puig, a strategic place 15 km from Valencia, conquered by El Cid in the literature and also in history (in 1092). In 1237, Jaime I followed suit and, in both cases his occupation was decisive for the conquest of the city.
Now, all that is left is to enter the historical centre of Valencia through any of its gates (that of Quart or that of Serranos) and travel along a section of the former Islamic walls, whose remains consist of a few parts of the wall embedded in the houses in the historical centre. El Cid took Valencia on 15 June 1094 after a very difficult siege. It is said that, after the conquest, he climbed the fortress tower to see his possessions; we take our last steps in this journey by climbing El Miquelet, one of the symbols of this legendary city. And nothing better than the stanzas of the Poem to describe that moment: Great was the rejoicing / when my Cid entered Valencia. / Those who were on foot became knights, / and the gold and the silver — who could count it?
The story told in the Poem does not end here: Valencia and the surrounding area were the stages for other events and battles against the Almoravides, who wanted to reconquer the city. Valencia is where El Cid ended his days: according to history, Rodrigo died as Prince of the city in 1099. It was then, or perhaps earlier, when the legend was born.
A little history will help you understand this route
In the times of El Cid, in the middle of the 11th century, the ancient caliphate of Andalusia had been divided into numerous Muslim Taifas ('kingdoms'). Militarily weak, they suffered first of all from attacks from the up-and-coming Christian kingdoms and then from the invasion by the Almoravides. Consequently, the rich Taifa of Valencia was wanted by the Aragonese and the Catalans, as well as by the Arabic monarchs of Zaragoza and Lérida and by the Almoravides. El Cid took advantage of the situation and conquered the city of Valencia in 1094; however, pressure from the Almoravides forced his wife, Jimena, to abandon the city in 1102, three years after her husband's death.
The Almoravides were tribes from North Morocco who came to the peninsular in 1086 after the conquest of Toledo by Alphonse VI, King of León and Castile. These tribes took control of Al-Andalus until the 12th century, when they were beaten by the Almohades, also from Morocco. At the time, the Christian kingdoms were unstoppable and, although not free from difficulty, the upsurge was completed with the definitive conquest of Valencia by Jaime I in 1238.
The Conquest of Valencia section has two very different parts. The first, between Cella (Teruel) and Jérica (Castellón), is a route laden with history and nature: charming medieval villages, fascinating countryside, large mixed Mediterranean forests, natural ponds for swimming, rivers, straits and many other unique features that will more than compensate any hiker's efforts. This part of the route covers approximately 160 km and includes some of the most demanding sections on the Way, with many mid-mountain tracks. Teruel (capital of the Aragonese Mudejar style and a World Heritage Site), Mora de Rubielos, Rubielos de Mora and Jérica are the four towns that have been declared historical and/or artistic sites on this section.
The second part begins in Jérica: after leaving Segorbe, a historical-artistic site with a great deal of Gothic heritage, the Way goes down to Valencia along a technically simple route that connects the Via Verde Ojos Negros, a reconditioned railway track, with the Via Augusta. Downhill all the way, the view gradually changes from fruit and vegetable gardens to a more urban landscape. This is when travellers see the walls of Sagunt, facing the Mediterranean, one of the oldest and most important fortified towns on the Mediterranean. After passing through El Puig, referred to in the Poem as Cebolla, and after ending up on one of the beaches on the Mediterranean coast (an option we highly recommend!), travellers finally reach Valencia, the grand reward of El Cid and, possibly, also that of travellers on the Way of El Cid in the 21st century.
There are many natural areas of interest on this route: the juniper forests of El Puerto de Escandón (between Teruel and Puebla de Valverde), the spectacular Straits of El Mijares (between Olba and Montán) and the Course of the Palancia River (between Caudiel and Algar de Palancia). Between Sagunto and Puçol, on the coast, stands the Marsh of Els Moros, an area of wetlands home to local plant life and a wide variety of water birds. The Marsh reminds us that we are close to the Mediterranean and that we have the almost unavoidable option of refreshing our tired bodies on any of the beaches next to the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
Gastronomy in this area is influenced by the lie of the land. In the interior, in the mountains, the food is simple and surprisingly varied. With a traditional base, it has brought in new ingredients, such as truffle, and reinvented others, such as oils from old olive trees (some of which may have seen El Cid pass by). The meat on offer includes pork, which is also responsible for the famous ham of Teruel; the rest is used for cold meats and local stews, such as La Olla. Stock from cocido and ham, as well as bread crusts and egg are essential ingredients in Pelotas de Carnaval, which are popular across the Maestrazgo region.
On the coast, the main ingredient is rice, cooked in many different ways: paella, arroz a banda, arroz al horno, arroz negro, with pumpkin, in desserts... Fish dishes include all the Mediterranean varieties cooked in an endless number of ways, such as suquet de peix, which is a very tasty stew. While you are there, try the wines from some of the local designations of origin: Valencia and Tierra de Castelló. And while we are speaking of drinks, don't forget to try horchata, which is extremely popular in Alboraya. Finally, this area is where some of the most famous varieties of oranges and mandarins in the world are grown: try them in season and you will no doubt be surprised by the taste of a 'real' orange.
The term ‘Singular Road' on the Way of El Cid is used for the sections of road that are of particular importance for cycling tourists or because of the countryside, history or artistic heritage. This route has the following Singular Roads:
- CV-20 between Puebla de Arenoso and Montanejos (10 km). Castellón
This is one of the best-known and most visited roads on the Way of El Cid and it is the first panoramic road to be listed by Comunidad Valenciana. The road runs in the natural area of the Straits of the River Mijares and follows said River in its descent. The river widens at the reservoir of El Arenós and narrows again near Montanejos at an attractive place that is ideal for climbing and swimming in the spa waters. Although the route is used by cycling tourists, it is important to be very careful in summer since the traffic increases considerably.
The roads are signposted at crossings and strategic places. For greater convenience, we recommend you take the cycling tourist route guides and the track.
Tips and recommendations
- The route has different, well-defined parts: along the Via Verde Ojos Negros, a reconditioned railway track, to Puebla de Valverde and from there, with important uphill and downhill gradients, along the road to Caudiel. The roads in El Mijares are spectacular but have tight bends and they do not always have a hard shoulder (see the cycling tourism guide), so we recommend you cycle very carefully. In Caudiel, the route returns to the Via Verde reconditioned railway track on a continuous downhill run to Algimia de Alfara. The last stage runs mainly along tarmacked country roads and cycle lanes.
- Length of the stages: it is best for each one to decide their own stages according to their strengths and personal preferences. Some people place the emphasis on doing exercise, others on the cultural side of the route and others on the simple pleasure of taking in the countryside and locations. The stages we suggest are a combination of all three and have been designed for average tourists cycling under stable weather conditions to enjoy the route without too much stress.
- Travel safely and unhurriedly: take the tracks and route guide with you.
- Food and spares. Unless you have planned to eat in a bar or restaurant, it is very important to take some food with you (sandwiches, nuts, energy bars, etc.) in case you can't find anywhere to eat or buy food. Also remember to take water with you. In most of the villages, there are drinking fountains: remember to refill your water bottles before setting off again. The same applies for spare parts: remember to take a repair kit with you and the more complete it is, the greater your peace of mind will be.
- Book your accommodation in advance.
- Don't forget your helmet: it is compulsory for adults to wear helmets on roads outside cities and for under 16s it is compulsory at all times.
- Get your Letter of safe conduct. The Letter of Safe Conduct is a personalised 'passport' you can have stamped at many towns and villages on the Way of El Cid. You can use it to get discounts of at least 10% in more than 200 places of accommodation and benefit from special offers. It is free and you can apply for it at any of the more than 70 tourist information offices on the route or at the Way of El Cid Consortium.
- Your literary guide. You might think it's unnecessary weight, but for many it is essential: don't forget to take with you a copy of the Poem of The Cid; you will be able to recreate some of its passages on site. If your Old Spanish is not so good, take a modern version!
How to get there… and get back
For more information about how to get to Cella, click on the information about the municipality. If you prefer, you can start your route in Teruel, 27 km from Cella. For more information about the transport options in Teruel, click on the information about the municipality. There are many options for getting to or leaving Valencia because it is an important communications centre.
Rev. JGG 02.08.16